Chapter 898: Liberate

True to his words, Vahn cleared up several more areas of the Dwarven underground slave trade, including the small military forces that had started to respond to the ongoing riot, before making his way to the underground lake. Though the Dwarves had access to the sea on the surface, this place was an underground reservoir that served as a source of fresh water for the Dwarves in the Undercities. There were several miles of complex aqueducts redirecting the water to the various Cities, many of which had been damaged or blocked by the malcontent slaves. Vahn frowned upon seeing this, as damage to the key infrastructure of the Iron Hills posed a variety of issues for the future.

As cruel and foolish as the Dwarves seemed, Vahn knew they weren’t innately evil since he had met a number of kind and honest Dwarves in his time. If anything, they were horribly misguided over several generations, much like the Elves had been before he introduced his reformations. Since their population was already rather low, Vahn fully intended to cripple the very foundation of their society, all while sparing most ‘common’ Dwarves. It was a simple truth that the Dwarves were the most capable craftsman and merchants on the entire Continent, with a history stretching back thousands of years. Since he was trying to build the basis for an Empire, Vahn knew it would be extremely useful to have the Dwarves around to build infrastructure and promote trade between the various regions of the Empire…

The transition for the Dwarves would be rough, especially with the loss of their slave population, but it was an important lesson that they would survive through. Once they were in line with the reforms he intended to introduce, they would become a proud and glorious people, even greater than before. Other races would also come to reside within the Iron Hills one day, next time as citizens, not slaves. With the introduction of various cultures, the mentality of future generations of Dwarves would slowly change to keep up with the times. There would undoubtedly be resistance to the changes that were introduced but, by controlling information and deposing those with power and authority, change was inevitable…

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With the unconscious figures of several Slave Traders, Breeders, and Wranglers floating behind him, Vahn split the large crowd of Slaves who had been awaiting his arrival. In the mines, the large majority of Slaves, once again, were comprised of Pallum, Cat People, and some more burly slaves like the Kyrie tribe. Liberating the ‘stock’ at the farms had added a variety of Elves, Dark Elves, Dwarves, and a large number of unique Beast Tribe members into the mix. Now, there were nearly a hundred thousand slaves gathered in the area, kept safe by the existence of Fafnir lurking around in the shadows. Vahn had chosen this area, trusting that the Dwarves wouldn’t arbitrarily attack their own source of fresh water without proper consideration…

Aja, followed by several other slaves Vahn had entrusted with similar tasks, squeezed out of the crowd, eyes now filled with hope. The last few hours had affected all slaves a great deal but those who had been entrusted various tasks by Vahn felt a sense of empowerment. Instead of being whipped and beaten, they had been able to guide and direct other slaves while waving around weapons and supplies that Vahn had given them to pass out. Most slaves readily assisted each other, especially as the momentum continued to build in their favor. Now, the last step was to help them escape this hellish place, even though it would be very difficult to settle such a large number of people in a short period of time.

Fortunately, preparations had been made to establish a refugee camp outside of the City to process this veritable ocean of slaves as proper citizens. Loki had even advised securing some land to the south, building an entirely new nation in close proximity to Orario. This would serve as a throughway for trade in the Southern Sands, making it an important hub for merchants in the future. Vahn would pitch the idea to the refugees after they had gotten comfortable within the encampment outside of the City. Since it would take several weeks to process so many people, it shouldn’t be difficult to convince a few thousand to build homes for themselves instead of forcing them to adapt to the ever-changing Orario.

After sharing a few words with the hopeful bunch that had surrounded him, Vahn pulled out the item that Terra had prepared in advance for these types of events. She had been growing rather tired of having to set up teleportation wards every time Vahn needed to move a large number of people. As a result, Terra had made the first SS-Rank artifact Vahn had ever seen, even though she possessed neither the [Master Smith] or the [Mystery] Development Abilities.

The artifact took on the form of a simple disc but, once activated, expanded to a size of twenty meters, a complex teleportation ward carved into the surface. The indentations had been filled with several tens of gallons of Terra’s own golden blood, serving the purpose of gathering natural energy to power the artifact in most environments. So long as there was a viable power source, such as Vahn with his ‘limitless vital energy’, it was possible to use Terra’s [Path of Salvation] as a portable teleportation ward, an innovation that would even make a stir back in Eva’s record…

Vahn had the former slaves clear out an adequate amount of space as he explained what they should expect on the opposite end. The Alliance had already set up an organized encampment and was prepared to receive the large group of refugees outside the Eastern Gate of Orario. This put them in the closest proximity to Daedelus Steet and the various crafting districts where they would likely seek employ in the future. It would take some time for them to adapt to the lifestyle of the City but, with a bit of guidance from their kin, Vahn believed the future was much brighter for these individuals with the support of the Alliance.

Once explanations were completed, Vahn became the ‘battery’ powering the teleportation ward and began sending the slaves more than 3700km in the blink of an eye. It was actually a lot easier to teleport this group of people than it was to move in and out of the Dungeon, while his reserves were seemingly limitless in these circumstances. With his main body meditating within the Sub-Space orb, Vahn’s reserves were hardly impacted at all, even when moving groups of more than one-hundred people at a time. In the time it took for the opposite end to be cleared out, Vahn’s reserves would be completely filled once again, allowing him to send batches every forty seconds, on average.

This massive exodus ended up taking more than thirteen hours, during which several large-scale attempts to breach into the massive cavern had occurred. Fafnir easily dealt with thousands of Dwarves who had tried breaking into the area while the slaves patiently awaited the chance to escape to freedom. Vahn had set out several large crates of supplies and blankets for their use, prioritizing the evacuation of women and children while the mature and sturdy slaves protected the perimeter. So they were able to keep the momentum, Fafnir let some of the weaker Dwarves through so that the former-slaves could use the weapons and equipment they had been given. It was a little strange seeing people get so riled up, cheering at the death of each Dwarf slain, but Vahn knew it was a fate they had brought upon themselves…

When it was time for the last group to go through, Vahn’s main body was already waiting on the other end with several members of the Hermes Familia, including Elilly. She wasn’t the only one who had a vendetta against someone from the Iron Hills so he had captured several groups other than Hodin’s. He had already talked to them about the ‘correct’ decision to make, advising them to either bring the group to justice or simply grant them mercy. Vahn was worried they would have a scar on their heart if they treated their vengeance as a cruel affair. If they went the route of torturing their previous oppressors, it would be a dark memory they would have to live with for the rest of their lives. For some, however, their deeply rooted trauma needed an outlet and, fully understanding this, Vahn had left the decision for them to make.

Ultimately, Elilly, who already showed signs of slimming down, simply couldn’t forgive Hodin and the two women who had been cruel to her during her time as a slave. When a Dwarf became a slave, they were treated much harsher than other slaves, as there was a great deal of scorn forced upon them. Elilly had been born as a slave because her ancestors had become criminal slaves after infighting between two of the Noble Houses more than two-hundred years ago. She was a third generation slave, forced to suffer since before she was even aware of her surroundings. The two women were similar in age to her so, as she grew, the two treated her as a plaything, forcing cruel a sadistic acts upon Elilly for her entire life…

When Vahn brought her to a secure location with the three individuals, Elilly had released a great deal of pent up frustrations upon them within the privacy of a soundproof cell. After several hours had passed, she exited the room with long-tried tracks of tears on her face, blood stains covering her hands, face, and clothing. Vahn entrusted her to the care of Lulune and Pot, having them get Elilly cleaned up so she could put the matter behind her. As for the maimed corpses of the three monstrous individuals, Vahn prayed they became better people in their next life before burning them to ashes.

Similar scenarios played out between several of the captive Slavers and other members of the Hermes Familia, something that made Vahn feel a strange heartbreak. Since the majority of those in the Hermes Familia had outgoing and vibrant personalities, it was saddening to see that only a few were able to let the past go. They let the Slavers be judged, forced to become criminal slaves themselves, instead of resorting to violence and placing a heavier burden upon themselves. Even so, Vahn didn’t hold it against those that sought more ‘direct’ means to deal with the capture Slavers, many of which were females that had been brutalized in the past. There was even one member of the Hermes Familia, an Elven woman named Suicia, who spent nearly a full day torturing her former ‘Master’ before she was finally content.

Suicia was a woman who wore an outfit that covered her entire body, to the point that she even wore a facial mask. In the past, she had been a personal sex slave that was forced to serve as an exotic ‘pet’ within an influential circle of the Iron Hills. Now, she had a very prominent androphobia that even extended to the men within her own Familia, Hermes being the only exception. She had slowly opened up to Vahn as well but, after reading her file, this was mainly because he kept a proper distance from her and made efforts to ease her burden over time. Now that the source of her suffering was dead, Suicia had come out of the room and, for the first time, removed her mask before bowing low and expressing her sincere gratitude…

Most of the slaves who had wanted direct vengeance had been female, as the life of a female slave was inordinately harder than their male counterparts. Not only did they have to perform manual labor, but they were always subject to the whims and licentiousness of their owners. Even worse was the fact that the male slaves, in order to release their stress and tensions, would vent it out on the females’ bodies during ‘mating’. Since they were expected to produce the next generation of slaves, the life of female slaves within some ‘farms’ was extremely cruel. Many even forced themselves to have abortions, doing their best to avoid bringing children into the world for the sole purpose of suffering as they had…

Vahn could never truly empathize with the suffering they had gone through but, comparing it to his own, he had long since realized he hadn’t had it the ‘worst’. Ever since arriving in the record of Danmachi, Vahn had numerous reminders that there were infinitely greater tragedies than what he had experienced. Though this didn’t make his suffering lesser, Vahn’s mentality had matured a great deal since his emergence in this world. Now, he was no longer a victim, but a force that helped to liberate other victims and set them on the path towards the future. He felt a powerful drive to create a future where these people, having survived their tragedy, were able to prosper.

By the time things had started to settle down, a celebratory atmosphere had overtaken the massive encampment as nearly 110,000 people celebrated their freedom. There had been some who were still skeptical, all the way up until they had arrived on the outskirts of Orario, but that sentiment no longer existed. As a result, Vahn’s domain had broken through the 2km radius threshold, reaching 2,317m. While amongst the mass of former slaves, he felt an incredible amount of power that made it seem like he would even be able to split mountains with the turn of a hand. He knew this wasn’t the case but, even so, Vahn celebrated with their freedom alongside them, talking at length about the bright future that awaited those willing to migrate south after the Rakia Kingdom’s forces were dealt with…

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While celebrating with the liberated slaves, Vahn’s avatar was now investigating one of the Undercities, choosing the magnificent Ironheart City as his destination. Enough time had passed that each member of the Elder Council should have gathered to discuss matters. He wanted to get a sense of the tensions within the City, finding a dark atmosphere present amongst the citizenship, who now knew the truth of previous reports. Having their ancestral Mother Mountain ‘desecrated’ had been a big impact on many Dwarves and, though many wanted vengeance, the reality of the situation wasn’t beyond their comprehension.

In general, Dwarves were relatively intelligent, allowing most to understand there was simply no way for them to fight against such awesome power. They lacked the means to stage a large invasion and, understanding that Vahn would likely have similar weapons in reserve, any attempt to do so would undoubtedly be met with an unfathomably powerful counterattack. Though they were arrogant and prideful by nature, most Dwarves were also pragmatic to the extreme, the result of growing up in a society that always sought advantages from each other. Now, most pubs and taverns were filled to the brim with Dwarves who understood the futility of the situation, many cursing the Elder Council openly for allowing things to reach this point…

What surprised Vahn was that very few people were talking about him directly, almost as if even mentioning his name would turn the ale sour. Those that cursed him did so indirectly, calling him things like ‘accursed brat’, ‘false sage’, and ‘tyrant’, never speaking his name directly. It was a little strange, to the extent that Vahn nearly wanted to reveal himself just to see how they would react to his presence. He avoided this course of action, however, as the ‘deadline’ he had set still had a little over forty hours before expiring. In that time, he planned to liberate as many of the slaves forced into labor farms as possible, forcing the Elder Council to feel greater pressure as they were powerless to do anything to stop him…

(A/N: I’m once again reminded that moving sucks. I’m going to have to walk a series of mattresses like .4km just to save money on truck rentals (=_=);…Also, to those saying that Vahn should ‘just kill the Dwarves’, that is just senseless. Genocide is never the answer to anything and, if you find yourself believing it is, congrats on rising to the standard of reputed historical figures like Adolf Hitler, Julius Ceasar, and the Spanish Conquistadors xD~!)

(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘Shatter the Foundation, Leave the Infrastructure’,’Terra, proof that, if someone sincerely wants to do less work, they can create amazing innovations…’,’He who shall not be named xD…’)

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